Entertainment Lead Story Local News West Edition

Comedian goes public about personal encounter with LAPD

LOSANGELES — Actor and comedian Jay Pharoah is the latest celebrity to use his status to further the current #BlackLivesMatter movement by sharing his experience of how he was mistreated by Los Angeles police officers recently.

Pharoah, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member who is best known for his celebrity impressions, released a video on his Instagram account June 12, describing his experience with the LAPD in April.

And on June 15, he made a virtual appearance on the CBS daytime talk show “The Talk” to discuss more his experience in more detail.

According to Pharoah, he was jogging near the intersection of Corbin Avenue and Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills on April 26 when he had his encounter with the LAPD.

Four officers drew their guns on Pharoah before one officer ultimately kneeled on his neck and handcuffed him.

The 32-year-old actor and comedian noted that he was told by the police officers that he fit the description of a man they were searching for in the area— “a black man in grey sweatpants and a gray shirt,” Pharoah said.

When the officers were notified that the suspect in question had already been apprehended, they apologized to Pharoah and let him go.

On “The Talk,” Pharoah spoke about the struggles of being black in America and how to combat police brutality. Hosts Eve Jeffers-Cooper, Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne, Carrie Ann Inaba and Marie Osmond each joined the virtual conversation individually.

“Now that I see it, it hits different,” Pharoah said. “It hurts even more when I see injustices done to my folks. It hurt before, but now I get enraged. I want to make sure we’re not having this conversation 10 years down the line,” Pharoah said.

Pharoah shared video footage of his encounter with LAPD officers on his Instagram, which was obtained from a nearby security camera.

“Black lives always matter,” he said at the end of his Instagram video. “My life matters. I’m still here to tell my story, but I could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd.”

“We are sick and we are tired of it. I can’t breathe!” 

During his interview on “The Talk,” Pharoah suggested that the impact of coronavirus and ongoing racial injustices towards African Americans have been a “blessing in disguise.”

“Corona put us in the house, and George Floyd took us out of it,” he said. “I love what’s happening because it seems like everybody is just tired of it and coronavirus gave us a chance to pay attention to what’s happening,” Pharoah told the hosts. “We should not have to fear going to the grocery store, going to get some gas, running down the street. It’s called human civility.”

Pharoah conveyed the importance of knowing “everybody in power” and voting in the congressional, state, and local elections as a call to action to instill change. He also mentioned the need to introduce protocols for holding elected officials accountable for their actions and taking action to remove them from office when they are not producing progress.

Although Pharoah’s appearance on “The Talk” mostly covered current issues surrounding Black Lives Matter, he also promoted his current project as a leading cast member in the new Lionsgate Motion Picture film “2 Minutes of Fame.”

Pharoah plays the role of an aspiring comic who gains viral fame through YouTube for exposing a superstar comedian-turned-actor as a sellout. The film was digitally released on June 16, due to coronavirus-related restrictions, and is available on most video streaming platforms, including On Demand.